‘Hangover’ director’s cocky challenge to ‘Fast 6' backfires

“Fast and Furious 6": 1, “Hangover Part III” director Todd Phillips: 0.

The Memorial Day weekend box office results are in, and “Fast 6" flattened the Wolfpack’s third outing by a 2-to-1 margin. Now Phillips -- like some of his film’s characters -- may be wishing that he hadn’t done what he did in Vegas.

Back in April, before the public had the chance to weigh in on his film, Phillips took to the stage at the annual CinemaCon theater owners convention in Sin City and issued a challenge to his main box-office competition. 

PHOTOS: Scenes from ‘Hangover III’


He knocked the wildly successful “Fast” series and its lead actors with an expletive-laden rant: “All these press people backstage are asking me, ‘Are you nervous?’” Phillips said, referring to his box-office showdown with the action series. “Come on, it’s ... Vin Diesel and the Rock.”

Yet Diesel, the Rock and their Teflon-like franchise easily fended off the third installment of “The Hangover,” which was excoriated by the critics and not particularly beloved by the fans, who gave it a B grade, according to exit pollster Cinemascore.

The R-rated Vegas romp grossed an estimated $53 million from Friday to Monday (and close to $64 million when you factor in the extra cash earned on the film’s Thursday opening). That’s pocket change compared with “Fast 6,” which took in $122 million over the four-day period.

What may make the sting even more painful to Warner Bros., the studio behind the “Hangover,” is that the film cost $103 million, up from the $70-million price tag of the second installment. Phillips, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis each apparently saw sizable increases in their checks. “Everyone got paid,” said Phillips in an interview with the Los Angeles Times at CinemaCon. “And that’s life.”


Despite his cockiness, Phillips did acknowledge that final films in comedy trilogies often disappoint. “If you look at the third movies of comedy trilogies -- ‘Rush Hour,’ ‘Meet the Parents,’ ‘Austin Powers’ -- honest to God, those movies tend to drop in their third film,” he said. “They lose 20% of their audience. So we’re aware of that.”

Considering “The Hangover Part III” opened to less than half of what “Hangover 2" did the same weekend back in 2011, Phillips will be lucky if in the end he only loses 20%.


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